Matt Levine's consistently excellent newsletter for Bloomberg is called Money Stuff, and is typically focused on white collar crime and crime-adjacent behavior. Monday's edition looks at the New York Times' article on on the possible existence of Epstein-related incriminating videos, and attempts to explain why the story doesn't actually allege criminal behavior by the lawyers involved:
It’s “a long way from extortion” in the technical sense that they were lawyers and knew the proper incantations to utter to make it not extortion. It’s not a long way from extortion in the sense that they were planning to go to rich men and say “we have compromising videos of you and we will publish them unless you pay us money.” But the incantations make all the difference!
Monday's newsletter includes a summary of various ways bankers can be induced to aid financial crimes, and why Credit Suisse Group AG’s Mozambique scandal doesn't seem to fit the mold:
the Mozambique case is even weirder than I thought, because the bribes weren’t just to motivate the bankers to get the deals approved, they were to motivate the bankers to cut the fees.
It is honestly a bit mysterious to me how this could work. If you’re a banker and you come to your bosses with a hairy deal with a higher-than-usual fee, they will be repulsed by the hair but intrigued by the fee. If you come to your bosses with a hairy deal and a below-average fee, because you are pocketing a bribe-in-lieu-of-fees yourself, what’s in it for them?
Also included is a look at the the strange circumstance of the companies known as Coca-Cola Consolidated (COKE) and Coca-Cola Co. (KO):
Some short sellers are betting against Coca-Cola Consolidated (COKE), and they keep producing fun short research notes, which have various complaints about performance and valuation and corporate governance. One complaint is that COKE’s chief executive officer “believes that the business is really owned by God; with the clear implication of this being that the company is not truly owned by its shareholders.” I also tend to believe that public companies are not “truly” owned by their shareholders, so I am tempted to explore this theory further, but we have other, sillier things to talk about.
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